The jam rock titans of Vermont Phishing unleashed all hell raging at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland last Saturday, with rare songs and teasing. This included a song that was played based on who answered the question. They are deep into their 2022 summer tour and continue to bring exciting and fresh jams night after night.
The band wasted no time and immediately plunged into deep jam territory with “Sand”, from Closed. The elevated yet concise jam set the tone for the evening. The melodious “If I Could”, from the 1994 release hoist, followed. That tune greased the gears for the first fiery jam sequence of the night, which began with the fast beat “Buried Alive.” A short but sweet sequence led the music to a sixteen-minute “Set Your Soul Free,” followed by a face-melting jam that turned into a high-octane “Llama.” The classic version was played with a fierce cadence and brought smiles to many faces.
“Halfway to the Moon”, from the 2014 version Fuego, was next. Keyboardist Page McConnell took on vocal duties in this ballad. As the band sank into the jam, they may or may not have moved on to “Shafty”, a rarely played original that is also rarely played in its entirety. As a result, a heated debate has developed over whether the now infamous “Shafty” MP was teased or actually played. In this case, a break and a verse of “Shafty” were played, but drummer Jon Fishman never played the rhythm of the song, making it slightly off.
There’s the strong contingency that counted “Shafty” as a tease, led primarily by Phish.net. They are considered the authority on phishing lists. They have a very strict set of rules to distinguish a song from a tease as Phish takes liberties with song structures. In this case, “Shafty” barely missed the criteria to count as a song.
There are many others who categorized “Shafy” more prominently as a song and didn’t indicate it was a tease, including the band’s Youtube account. LivePhish.com, the Nugs.net project for live Phish soundboards, has the song tracked as “Shafty”, instead of leaving it as part of “Halfway to the Moon”. Phish’s Youtube account released “Halfway to the Moon” > “Shafty” in 4KHD. Phish statistician and historian David Steinberg tweeted: “I’m pretty sure if you froze time and asked the 4 band members at the time what song they were playing, they would all say Shafty.”
“Shafty” is highly controversial as the song has only been performed seven times before and was last officially performed on February 21, 2020 in Cancun, Mexico.
As the debate continued, so did the show, as the band dove into Shuggie Otis’ classic gangster disco funk “Strawberry Letter 23.” Lighting director Chris Kuroda illuminated the top of the pavilion with red lights as the crowd danced in delight. The music flowed to Gamehendge’s classic, “Lizards,” and ended the set on a very high note.
The second set started a non-stop streak with another Closed heating, “First Tube,” which moved impeccably into a raging eighteen-minute “Fuego.” Abbreviated renditions of “Sigma Oasis” and “Prince Caspian” followed, and flowed well into a “Waves” reminiscent of the Madison Square Garden version in April 2022. The music slowed as the band moved on to song rarely performed with the audience participation dance, “Meatstick”, last performed in Santa Barbara, California on October 26, 2021.
Three fan favorites closed out this second set, starting with “Simple,” which also featured a nice, succinct jam. The energy started to rise as the band moved on to another vintage track, “The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony”. The set ended in high gear with the energetic “Suzy Greenburg”.
The group left the stage momentarily and returned to applause for more. They accepted with more old school rarities, starting with “Alumni Blues” > “Letter to Jimmy Page” > “Alumni Blues”. This footage was last played at Dicks on September 4, 2021 and included guitarist Trey Anastasio’s electrifying solo. The band wasn’t quite finished yet and quickly exploded into a known end-of-character track, “Character Zero”.
Show after show, Phish continues to find a way to exercise his musical creativity. From the debate MPP “Shafty” to the stellar “First Tube” > “Fuego”, this show had all the elements of a magical night. The group is back in action at Blossom Music Center August 2. Jump on their visit page for details on tickets and live streams.
Learn more Pictures from To display!
Sable, If I Could, Buried Alive > Free Your Soul > Llama, Halfway To The Moon > Shafty1Strawberry Letter 232 > Lizards
First Tube > Fuego > Sigma Oasis > Prince Caspian > Waves > Meatstick -> Simple > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg
Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Character Zero
1. Considered a tease by Phish.net
2. Mike Gordon teases The Rolling Stones’ Miss You
3. Mike Gordon teases Flash Light by Parliament